Whole Foods Cranberry Tuna Salad Recipe, My version

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I have a bit of an obsession with the Whole Foods Cranberry Tuna Salad that you get in the deli. There is one fairly close to my house so I suppose I could just go get it whenever I want, but I worry. When you like something this much, you lay awake at night and think “What if they go out of business?” or “What if they stop making it?”. Things like that. Serious things. It is also kind of expensive at around $10/lb.

A quick Google search shows that I am not alone in my love of this salad but ALL of the recipes out there trying to reverse engineer it are WRONG. They look nothing like it, taste nothing like it. They are fine tuna salads, but not what I want.

After about a month of trial and error, I believe that I have come as close as I’m going to get and life is good.

Every choice I’ve made for ingredients is to make it just like what you buy in the deli at WFM.

Here is what you need.

  • 2 6oz cans Yellowfin tuna in spring water, preferably line caught, in BPA free cans
  • 2 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3 Tbsp Lemon Volcano Juice
  • 5 Tbsp Whole foods 360 brand canola mayo
  • 3 Tbsp chopped dried cranberries
  • 1-2 tsp sugar or stevia (I use 1 packet of PureVia)

Yes, yellowfin tuna, not albacore. Albacore may be “better” but it is NOT what they make the salad out of at WFM. It is a darker color and if you want the same flavor, you need Yellowfin.  I used this stuff and it works perfectly.

The mayo is probably exchangeable but I use what they seem to use – it makes sense that they use their own canola mayo.

I used just sweetened dried cranberries from Whole Foods. I doubt it matters much.  A bunch of the other recipes say that they must be unsweetened but my WFM doesn’t carry any that are not sweetened (believe me, they searched). Sweetened works fine, just don’t add much other sweetener.

Volcano Lemon Burst is is a little bottle shaped like a lemon that I found in the juice section of my local Whole Foods. It is not concentrated, but it has some of the zest in there or lemon oil – a little bit more intense than a squeezed lemon.

Onions – must be dried. I tried EVERYTHING to get the right consistency with fresh onion and it won’t work. You need dried onions to soak up the lemon juice and other moisture to get the tuna salad consistency the same with that super tart taste.

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Mix everything but the tuna in a mixing bowl and blend it with a fork and let it sit. Open the two cans of tuna and use the top to press down to drain the water. You need to drain it VERY well, press down hard and keep doing it until your fingers hurt and the metal top is bent. Then do it some more.

When your tuna is drained, add it to the mixing bowl and use a fork to mix it up good, smashing it against the side to break up the chunks of tuna. The consistency of the store-bought is very fine, I am pretty sure it is mixed in a mixer but you don’t really need to do it if you use a fork.

After it is mixed up, taste it to see if it sweet enough for your taste and what lemon you used and adjust if necessary.

Place it in a tightly close container and put it in the fridge for 24 hours to allow the onion to re-hyrdrate and enjoy!

Let me know if you can make it better and better only means more like the original to me😉

Hands on with a Leica M8.2

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Last week I rented a Leica M8.2 from LensRentals.com along with a Leica Summicron 50mm f2. Unfortunately my timing was off and the week turned out to be one of the most busy work weeks in a long time with lots of overtime so my hands on time with the camera was much more limited than I wanted.

That said, I did get to spend some time with the camera and carried it everywhere I went. The M8.2 was the first Leica M camera I have ever used and I found it ridiculously easy to use. About 15 mins flipping through the manual and another 15 playing with the menus and I felt confident about my ability to control the camera. Talk about simple compared to the current crop of digital cameras with menu systems that go on for miles.

Physically, the camera was a little bigger than I expected, having only seen them behind glass cases. I’ve been shooting mostly with an Olympus E-P2 and the body of that camera is significantly smaller and lighter than the M8.2, but so is the sensor, and I have to use an adapter to use the M series lenses.

Delta Diamond Elite

I achieved Delta Diamond Medallion status for 2010 for the first time. Pretty amazing and clearly means I have been travelling too much. Too bad!! I love to travel for the most part. Can’t wait to see if Diamond makes any difference in the day to day use of Delta as an airline.

Saw a Leica M9 in person

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I was spending a god-awful 9-hour layover in the Frankfurt Airport last week when I happened into a duty-free electronics shop and right there under glass was an in-person-real-life Leica M9 body. I let out an embarrassing little shriek that caused some bystanders to look at me funny.

Naturally the shop keeper came right over and said “I see you know what that is.” I had to wipe the drool off my face to respond. He tried hard to sell it to me, and it really was priced exactly in line with what I would pay at home, and he even tried to lure me with saying that I’d get an 800 euro tax refund and if I didn’t declare it at customs in the US I’d get away without paying tax on it at all.

Yeah right. Aside from the ethical issue, who is going to throw away the box of a Leica camera that costs $7,000? You keep that crap as it is required if you ever sell the body.

Anyway, for about an hour, I had an unrealistic fantasy of owning that camera body and it was very nice. I even had a Voightlander Nokton f1.2 35mm in my carry on that I could have used with it right then and there.

People are dumb and won't stop calling

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Yesterday, someone posted my small businesses 800 number on some sort of apartment search web site, presumably accidentally. I started getting 10-15 calls an hour on the line that normally gets one or two calls a month. Naturally I’m PAYING for each wrong number.

I’ve tried to ask the people who call, usually with screaming children in the background, to tell me where they got the phone number so I can go there and ask them to fix it. The almost universal answer is “the computer.” Can’t get anything else out of them and most want ME to then provide the correct number.

The number is routed through Twilio so I added some text before the call gets routed that says “COMPANY Emergency support line. If you are calling about an apartment you have the wrong number. Please hang up and report the error to the web site you got the phone number from. Otherwise please hold.”

Sadly, this cut back on only 60% of the calls. 30% STILL WAIT AND CONNECT and 10% leave a voicemail. What is wrong with these people. Naturally I have started answering “Tiger’s Luxury Condos, how can I help you.”

Aperture 3 Arrives With Raw Support for Lumix

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FINALLY. Geeesh. I’m not sure why it took freaking Apple so long to support the LX3 (Leica D-Lux 3 & 4) and GF-1 and GH-1 raw format. Just lazy. Before you go and spew all that “blah blah they have to reverse engineer it blah blah” crap, look at Adobe Camera Raw that supported it very quickly on the Mac and had to do the same work.

Anyway, Aperture 3 is great news because I have all this location and face information in my iPhoto library that I was trying to figure out how to get into Lightroom and now I don’t have to — until Apple pisses me off again.😉

Update: Aperture 3 Trial is buggy as hell. OH. MY. GOD. The thing crashes so often and can’t import my library. Useless. Given how close lipped they are about their development, not to mention slow, I’m not hopeful I’ll even get to try this program. It desperately needs patching. Disappointing. Adobe Lightroom 3 BETA has only crashed once in weeks of using. Amazing! I could just go download the Beta and try it out. Give feedback. Amazing concept. Apple, if you are going to be all tight lipped about your software until it is dumped onto the world you better deliver the goods. This is a fail. I will say that it is screamingly fast until it crashes.

R.I.P NWA.COM, I'll miss you

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Looks like nwa.com has been shut down, leaving us with delta.com and I must say I am going to miss it. Searching and booking flights on the northwest site was so much easier than on Delta’s, especially if you were trying to find international flights to book upgraded to business class using miles. Now you have to call, and I have to say that calling Delta, even as a platinum, has been not nearly as pleasant an experience as calling Northwest. My general experience has been multiple transfers to “other” people because the one I’m talking to can’t “enter the proper codes” to do something.

Everyone has been very nice on the phone but the last and worst one was 40 mins on hold, transferred 4 times and the last one was to the wrong person. I actually hung up and had to take deep breaths because I was not in the USA and phone was expensive.

Maybe they will improve delta.com up to the level of functionality they just tossed on nwa.com. Progress? We will see.

Olympus E-P2 vs Lumix GF-1 Side by Side

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I had a terrible time deciding between two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds system. Both cameras have impressive features and excellent quality and both use the same lenses and can be adapted to use Leica M lenses. Naturally the only way to decide was to buy both and try them and ebay the loser.😛
Panasonic Lumix GF-1 & Olympus E-P2
The executive summary: I like most everything better on the GF-1 and would choose it over the E-P2 with nearly no thought except for one little thing that is important to me because of my desire to use Leica M mount manual lenses. If I wasn’t into that, the GF-1 would be my no-reservations choice. I used firmware 1.1 with the GF-1 and 1.0 with the EP-2.

Panasonic Lumix GF-1 & Olympus E-P2


The Lumix GF-1 is a solid feeling camera, constructed so that front and back half are joined with a vertical seam on the sides. It feels solid like a brick, there is no “give” when you hold it tightly, no creaking, no anything. Very nice construction. It looks a little boring compared to the E-P2 but feels wonderful. The E-P2 is constructed differently. There is a thin metal sheet that wraps around the camera horizontally and if you hold it in your hand with your fingers on the sides you can squish it. I don’t like the way that feels compared to the GF-1. It is a much more handsome camera IMO, the retro style is quite attractive. Both feel good in the hand. I’m right handed and they work well for me, not sure if they would be as comfortable for a left handed person.
Panasonic Lumix GF-1 & Olympus E-P2
I prefer the power switch on the GF-1. It is a slide on and off type of switch where the E-P2 has a pushbutton toggle. I much prefer the unambiguous nature of the slider, especially when you are operating the camera out of view (like down at your side as you prepare a stealth shot.) The E-P2 also has a fairly bright green ring around the power button which is too bright in low low light shooting. Not sure if that can be disabled or not, I’ve not found a way.

The bottom door for the battery and memory cards is better on the GF-1. It forms the right side of the bottom of the camera with a solid slider that clicks to lock and unlock. When you unlock it the door spring-loads open without help. The E-P2 door is embedded in the bottom right and opens front to back after clicking a recessed switch. The door is not spring loaded and needs to be pulled open, sometimes with a fingernail.
Panasonic Lumix GF-1 & Olympus E-P2

The GF-1 has a dedicated movie button on the top right which is really nice. No mode changing, just push it to start and stop recording a movie instantly. A really nice feature. The E-P2 uses a mode on the main dial for movie shooting. The E-P2’s dial is on the left and recessed under a protective cover accessible only from the back. The GF-1 has the main dial raised up on the right side. I slightly prefer the GF-1 because I can change it one handed.

I didn’t want these cameras for fully automatic point and shoot photography, but it is a nice feature to have if you are in a hurry or feeling lazy. The GF-1 kicks the E-P2’s ass in intelligent automatic mode. It is a bit embarrassing for the EP-2. The EP-2 constantly fails to select the “interesting” subject and is quite a bit slower than the GF-1 in all aspects of operation. In more challenging lighting it will just fail not only to pick a good program, it fails to focus lock and won’t fire the shutter. You can set it to fire the shutter anyway in the preferences, if you want.

I have been using the EVF (electronic viewfinder) on both cameras and while quite a bit larger than the GF-1s, the E-P2 is better. The extra size is spent wisely and gives a better experience overall. Both have diopter adjustments and both will swivel up so you can look down into them instead of “through” like and SLR. Invaluable when sneaking shots without being noticed. I find that people tend to be less aware of being photographed if I’m looking down.
evf_combined

The E-P2 famously doesn’t have a built in flash but I personally don’t care about that because I don’t use it. I guess GF-1 would win on that point if I cared.

I’ve shot hundreds of images now with each body and the battery life on the GF-1 is quite a bit better than the E-P2 using the batteries that came with the kits.

Lumix GF-1 with Voightlander 50mm f1.1

I became interested in these two camera bodies because I wanted to use them with Leica M lenses. Particularly ultra shallow depth of field monsters like the Voightlander Nokton 50mm f1.1 and 35mm f1.2. I would really like to use them with the Leica Noctilux f0.95 but I don’t have $11,000 laying around for lenses.

This is where the rubber meets the road for me on these two bodies. The E-P2 has in-body image stabilization that works with any lens you put on it. The GF-1 uses in-lens stabilization so only lenses with that feature get stabilized. This feature trumps everything else for me. I want this body for hand held, low light, ultra thin depth of field photos. The in-body stabilization gives me at least an extra stop of hand-held goodness and it also gives you rudimentary leveling on-screen or in the EVF.

Using either of these bodies is frustrating with these lenses. It is nearly impossible to tell if you got the shot until it is on the computer. I end up having to use the focus assist mechanism (the EVF or screen zooms in 7x and lets you focus on the patch). The GF-1 is easier to use manual focus assist with because you engage it and focus then tap the shutter release half way to turn it off and frame. The E-P2 you engage the focus assist and then have to disengage it before framing and shooting. I find it annoying, I would much prefer having the shutter button disengage the focus assist like the GF-1.

Custom settings are essential to using manual non-system lenses on these bodies and the GF-1’s custom settings system is much better than the E-P2. There are two custom settings on the main mode dial labeled C1 and C2. You can program these to be whatever combination of settings you want. There are actually sub-sets for each position, but I only ever used 2, setup for my preferences for the lenses I was using at the time. Really nice.

Custom settings on the E-P2 requires a trip to the menu to do a custom “reset.” Kind of clunky compared to selecting C1 or C2 on the main mode dial.

I use a mac and neither raw format RW2 or OVF are supported by the native applications, happily Adobe Camera Raw handles both with ease (wtf Apple … geesh).

The f1.7 20mm kit lens on the GF-1 is beautiful. My favorite lens when I’m not torturing myself with the Noktons. The Olympus 14-42mm kit zoom lens is cool in that it retracts into itself for more compact form factor when not in use, but I don’t notice any particular quality difference over the kit zoom from Panasonic.

As far as HD movies, the E-P2 stores the movies in an AVI format container and the GF-1 uses some sort of MPEG stream format that I have to convert. Both are fine quality, don’t really see a difference in the two bodies however but just like most of the auto focus features on the E-P2 it is so easy to get out of focus movies on the Olympus because IT SUCKS AT AUTO FOCUS and you need to be sure and check that it is recording in focus. So annoying.

So bottom line. If you use the system lenses and don’t torture yourself with ultra low depth of field focus manual lenses, my personal opinion is that the GF-1 kicks the E-P2’s ass around the block. Because of the in-body stabilization, I am choosing the E-P2 because I’m primarily using it for adapted Leica M lenses and the extra wiggle room (hahaahah) the stabilization gives me is worth it.

I’m not a professional photographer, hell I’m not even that great a photographer. I just keep practicing and trying and having fun. These are just my opinions about the two cameras after using them side by side for 3 weeks both at home and on vacation in the Bahamas. Got any questions, comments? Just leave them below or contact me!

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